Council Convenes as a Deliberative Body for IZ Projects

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Thursday May 03, 2012

April 30th, the City Council worked as a Deliberative Body for the first time in what has been a hot topic in the past year: interim zoning. This bylaw enforces a two-year slowdown on construction while the City examines development policies and procedures.

The five-person City Council has met to address the questions and concerns of South Burlington businesses, landowners, and current residents, and has been working to calculate which studies would be needed to execute interim zoning (such as sustainable agriculture and affordable housing), which committees would need to be formed (i.e. Steering Committee to analyze the economical portion) and how much those studies would cost.

Several training sessions have been held to ready City Council for  their new role; the Council studied the training offered from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) and the Development Review Board’s existing rules and procedures. The first night of training with VLCT addressed the actions of a legislative body, and the second session addressed how to act as a deliberative body. The Council unanimously agreed to align the rules and procedures with the Development Review Board (DRB) to minimize conflict.

At the start of the April 30 meeting, the City Council received a refresher about their role as an Appropriate Municipal Panel, according to Councilor Chair Rosanne Greco. Prior to the two public hearings of the evening—IZ applications from New England Federal Credit Union and the University Mall—Director of Planning & Zoning Paul Conner and Cathyann LaRose, city planner, provided two sets of staff notes for the applications:

The staff comments include a comprehensive list of the Conditional Use standards to be assessed in the City Council review of applications which are subject to Interim Zoning.

Staff has also included information which may be of assistance in assessing these criteria, including information specific to the proposed projects, relevant text from the Comprehensive Plan, and an assessment of current conditions related to public safety, public infrastructure, schools and library service from respective heads of these City departments.

The first public hearing addressed the Interim Zoning application for #IZ-12-01 of New England Federal Credit Union. The bank, located on 1000 Shelburne Road, is looking to raze an existing office building as well as construct a 3,920 square foot drive-in bank facility. Jeff Olesky of Civil Engineering Associates and Shawn Brennan, the architect of the building, testified in front of the City Council.

All interested persons during the procedure have the ability to make an appeal in any decision that is made during the proceeding.

Brennan presented the Council with plans for the building located between Shelburne Road and Laurel Hill Drive. The intent would be to update the site, and the proposed building would decrease in size. There would be an additional concrete sidewalk that would make it more accessible to pedestrians. The proposed renovation would have little to no effect on most of the community facilities and services, but there are a few potential changes, one being that the development “will create an estimated 36.62 additional afternoon peak hour vehicle trips, but will also reduce the number of curb cuts on Laurel Hill Drive,” according to the staff comments.

The City Council motioned to go into a deliberative session and continue the hearing on May 21.

City Council moved on to address the Interim Zoning application #IZ-12-02 of University Mall, LLC to 1) raze an existing commercial building, and 2) construct a 6,000 sq. ft. building to be used for shopping center use, 205 Dorset Street.

Sheila McIntyre, environmental planner for Summit Engineering LLC, testified on behalf of owners Finard Properties LLC and 205 Dorset Street to incorporate the 0.31 acre parcel at 205 Dorset Street after reconstructing the existing commercial building as well as relocating the existing ATM building. McIntyre emphasized that the construction would have “little to no impact to Dorset Street” nor will it affect the general layout or vehicle access of the University Mall. The building being constructed would be aesthetically pleasing for Dorset Street and the University Mall and would welcome people into the facility. McIntyre also noted that there would be more green space added and the proposed sidewalk along the north edge of the existing Mall driveway would allow entrance to the Mall to be more pedestrian-friendly.

Likewise with NEFCU, the City Council motioned to go into a deliberative session and continue the hearing on May 21.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent